May 30 - June 1, 2003
Beckster Fest Big!
(This article ran in the Texas Polka News)
There’s something really exciting about a “First Annual” polkafest! New location, new organization, new place to go and perhaps most important, new hope for polka!
Perhaps it was this promise of new life for polka music that brought large crowds to the First Annual Beckster Fest in Amana, IA May 30-June 1.
Promoted and put together by Becky Livermore (of Becky & The Ivanhoe Dutchmen), Beckster Fest featured nine bands over three days with two wood dance floors in a/c comfort. It took place at the Amana Colonies RV Park & Convention Center near Cedar Rapids, a great tourist attraction.
But for the dancers, the music was the attraction. Check it out! Steve Meisner, Bruce Bradley, Karl & Country Dutchmen, Top Notchmen, Malek’s Fishermen, Gary’s Ridgeland Dutchmen, Goodtime Dutchmen, and Lyle Beaver Trio.
Dancers from across the nation flowed into this rural Iowa community for the event. They enjoyed this “first annual” and boosted the local economy while taking in the Amana Colonies and the interesting shops and history.
So what are the Amana Colonies? Most Americans would recognize this Iowa community as the home of Amana and Maytag appliances, noted for the high quality and enduring performance. Just like the products that made them famous, the German immigrants who founded this community are also enduring.
It all began in 1842 when a group of Germans emigrated to Buffalo (NY) seeking religious freedom. There they established a communal system out of economic necessity. In 1855 the “Community of True Inspiration” moved west, forming their first village along the current location on the Iowa River. Eventually, 26,000 acres were purchased and six villages settled.
Their communal system remained essentially unchanged for 89 years. The community owned all land and buildings. Families were assigned living quarters and each person over school age was assigned tasks in the kitchen, fields, factories or shops. A seven-mile millrace was dug to provide water power for the early mills. The industrious German community produced prospered. Although they voted to end their communal way of life in 1932, they continued their industrious work ethic. Today the Amana Colonies are famous for quality appliances, fine furniture, woolens, wines, beers, meats, baked goods, and of course, food served family style in the local restaurants.
By the way, the Amana Colonies is easy to get to by air, flying into the Cedar Rapids airport only minutes away.
Becky is already planning the 2nd Annual Becksterfest, June 4-6, 2004. Mark it down, folks! Iowa is calling!
In the photo is Becky Livermore who ran the fest and Karl Hartwig (Karl and the Country Dutchmen) performing the unmentionable. You have to know him to love him!